Coronavirus Propels Use of AR for Semiconductors
As the coronavirus pandemic made traveling and working in the office impractical, augmented reality technologies are becoming increasingly important for chip makers to facilitate remote work, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In healthcare, a major hospital provider in London already adopted Microsoft Corp. 's HoloLens goggles to allow doctors to have limited exposure to patients while providing treatment. Likewise, internet company Cox Communications set up an augmented reality platform to allow its workforce of more than 5,000 staff to offer customer services.
Intel Corp.’s semiconductor production at the Arizona plant launched remote maintenance via augmented reality, an experiment that will become part of the company’s permanent operational plan. “The switch flipped, and the word spread and all the other factories from around the Intel ecosystem started to say, ‘Hey, we need to use this as well,’” said Javaid Ikram, an engineering manager at Intel’s Arizona plant.
Augmented reality is found to be especially suitable for the semiconductor industry, which relies on highly specialized machines and highly automated factories, or fabs. Meanwhile, concerns about protecting trade secrets delays the spread of AR technology on factory floors.
The pandemic added a new boost to the development of augmented reality. Microsoft last year presented the second generation of its HoloLens, which costs $3.500 and weighs 1.3 pounds, with skiing-google-like appearance and tracks eye movements to help users screen through displayed data.
However, the near-term market for AR technology is burdened by consumer weakness and supply shortages, as Microsoft revised its expectation from selling $10.8 million worth of AR devices to $7.1 million. HoloLens sold $5.7 million last year.